Except, that is, at that plaque marking the boundary line midway across the Peace Bridge. Nothing has improved in the serious dispute between Canadian and American members of the Peace Bridge Authority over the pace of development on the Buffalo plaza.
And by the looks of things, neither the team headed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo or the authority's Canadian counterparts are giving an inch.
As noted in last Sunday's Politics Column, a hard- charging Cuomo has made expansion and development on the U.S. side a top priority. After bridge officials and New York politicians spent more than a decade unsuccessfully proposing a new span across the mighty Niagara, the lack of development and related traffic problems loomed as a disturbing symbol.
Cuomo's people on the authority and in Albany have proposed a range of projects for the Buffalo plaza, and now blame the Canadians for failing to climb on board. That's what governors do to prod action when they control the situation. As a result, the hard line remains calculated and unflinching.
But since Canadians comprise half of the 10-member Peace Bridge Authority, Cuomo cannot control this situation. And since the Canadian contingent to the authority does not necessarily buy the governor's ideas for spending Peace Bridge money, or how he goes about it, the very stagnation that Cuomo seeks to break now appears as entrenched as ever.
After decades of cooperation, the Cuomo approach and the Canadian reaction have resulted in the most serious rift in Peace Bridge history. And it can safely be said that the situation has attracted attention at very high levels in Washington and Ottawa.
According to knowledgeable sources, the effort of Lt. Gov. Bob Duffy to tone down emotions proved helpful, though maybe not effective. Canadians continue to call for Cuomo to replace Sam Hoyt as head of the New York caucus, while Hoyt wants removal of Canadian General Manager Ron Reinas.
Some sources say it might take the departure of both before the board can once again function, though the underlying problems won't be solved. And it's a sure bet that Reinas' attorneys would work overtime to make any departure very expensive for his New York detractors – and, ultimately, the authority and those who pay its tolls.
A couple of other nuggets gathered along the campaign trail:
• It appears Sen. Tim Kennedy of Buffalo is using his strong relations with Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins for a significant appointment to the Roswell Park Cancer Institute board. He will propose replacing Democratic fundraiser Hormoz Mansouri with Elyse NeMoyer, a cancer survivor, former officer of the Erie County Democratic Committee and wife of State Supreme Court Justice Pat NeMoyer.
Mansouri, who Board of Elections records show contributed $50,000 to State Senate Democrats in 2010, was appointed to the Roswell Park board back when former Sen. Antoine Thompson and now-disgraced Sen. John Sampson controlled that Senate minority appointment. But Kennedy has developed a strong relationship with Stewart-Cousins, an African-American proving a key ally as he cultivates the black portion of a district that shunned him in 2012.
Don't look for Mansouri, however, to fade from the scene. He is emerging as a major backer of Democratic mayoral candidate Bernie Tolbert against well-financed incumbent Mayor Byron Brown.
• And speaking of the mayor's race, it is interesting to note that Brown and Tolbert both chose the facilities of St. John Baptist Church to announce their candidacies. Both are members of the city's largest African-American congregation, and both seek to connect with black voters via the strong network of inner city churches.
While Brown enjoys all the advantages of incumbency, organization and money, it's a sure bet that Tolbert will make every effort to gain support from some of the city's most influential ministers – as will Brown.
[BN] the know
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Peace Bridge stalemate drags on
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